Review by: Jo Anne Sweeney, Loyola University of Chicago - September 27, 2005
Judicious editing, abridging, adapting, interlinear vocabulary and other aids afford the students an opportunity to pursue the reading of Latin on their own. The readers therefore act admirably as supplemental materials.
Loyola University Chicago Emerita
Review by: Michelle Wu, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers - December 12, 2003
HELP THE STUDENTS PROGRESS FROM ONE LEVEL TO ANOTHER
LATIN READINGS: A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
by Michelle Wu
Perhaps the most difficult stage in a Latin student’s course of study is bridging the gap between grammatical forms and actual reading. I still remember that time in 3rd year Latin when we moved from choosing the correct form of a word and conjugating verbs to translating 38 Latin Stories and then Cicero’s Catilinarian orations. The classroom was filled with frustration, as we grumbled about the confusing word order and bemoaned the seemingly infinite possibilities that exist for each word, shuffling through our charts for reassurance.
I was recently introduced to Gertrude Drake’s Latin Readings: An Intermediate Rapid Reader, a text that my classmates and I would have greatly appreciated. Drake revives the interlinear method; however, she uses interlinear vocabulary instead of interlinear translation. The original Latin word order is preserved, and only selected words in Latin have a definition or notes right underneath—no footnotes, no word bank, just the text. For me, this would have certainly simplified the process of learning to read Latin, because seeing the English makes it easier to recognize how words fit together. When reading through the text, I found myself instinctively putting together subject and verb in English; it is then a small step to looking for the subject and verb in Latin. Furthermore, the straightforward interlinear text would have prevented the frustration of constantly losing my place in the Latin on account of flipping to the glossary or glancing down at the footnotes after every other word. Having the necessary notes right beneath is an aid to truly focusing on the Latin text.
Another source of frustration that would have been relieved by Drake’s text was the difference in learning styles among students in my class. In the book, unfamiliar Latin words are generally defined five times, enlarging vocabulary by repetition of those words in different contexts. Additionally, the interlinear notes change as the text progresses, first helping to untangle word order, but later on, highlighting idioms and implied meanings. And while everyone has the notes available to them, a striped transparency that can cover up these notes is also provided, so that students can go without the vocabulary when they are ready. Moreover, the Teacher’s Manual contains not only translations of the passages, but also comprehension questions that enrich understanding.
In addition to all these benefits, the content alone of Latin Readings made me wish that I had used this book. I would have liked having previously read some Cicero or Catullus since that would have made formal study of their works easier, but I would have enjoyed even more some of those other authors’ works that I hear references about but have never had time to even sample, such as Petronius’ Satyricon. Looking through Latin Readings has also been the only exposure I have had to Medieval Latin authors, and I noticed right away that they differ from Classical authors not only in their vocabulary choice and sentence structure, but also in their content. The five Humanistic Topics—The Human Comedy; Loyalty and Love; History and Legendary History; Scientific Insight and Discovery; Education and Philosophy—are represented by Latin authors from 150BC to the 18th century. Truly meant as a “rapid reader,” the book provides a sampling of different styles and topics that prevents students from getting bored, enabling them to read more Latin.
I sincerely believe that this intermediate reader, so different from what I used in high school Latin classes, indeed would have made the transition from grammar to reading much smoother for my whole class. While many of my classmates and I struggled through this period and persisted, there were those who were discouraged enough to drop the class. Everyone would have enjoyed the caliber of works featured in Latin Readings, but even more significantly, the accessibility of the interlinear method could possibly have encouraged more of my classmates to keep up the study of Latin.
Review by: James Cox, Wisconsin Bookwatch - July 15, 2002
Latin Readings For Review
A. E. Hillard & C. G. Botting
1000 Brown Street, Wauconda, IL 60084
0865164037 $16.50 www.bolchazy.com
Now in its eighth edition and enhanced with additions by Donald H. Hoffman, Latin Readings For Review is an ideal elementary Latin translation book which students of the language can use to practice and improve their understanding. Ninety-six brief Latin passages, one per page, form the bulk of this guide; additional sections are devoted to reviewing grammatical tenses and pronunciation. A glossary rounds out this superb study text for serious students of Latin; however, Latin Readings For Review is primarily meant for intermediate students to practice one's skill in Latin, and not a complete textbook in and of itself for novices. Most readings relate to Roman history or Greek mythology in this fine aid to the study of a classic language. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers are the premier publishers of Latin and Greek language materials. Educators and academic department chairs should write for their free catalog offering a complete listing of all of their instructional texts and publications.